Norman George Hooper was born in Dannevirke, New Zealand on the 1st of October 1925 to parents Walter Henry Hooper & Evelyn Ellery Tacon. Norm was the sixth  of sixteen children born to Wally and Evelyn. He was the fourth son.

All sixteen of Walter & Evelyn's sixteen grown children (Norm six from right)

      He admired his mother and told his children that he considered her to be a 'true lady' in his eyes. He told of his early years in the Carterton district with a mixture of pride that belied just how hard those childhood years were for a family of 18. His father and some of his Uncle's & Aunties were diabetic. Norm tells of working in the garden with his father when his dad would suddenly become ill and one of the children would have to race back to their mother, at home, to fetch the insulin injections so their dad could inject himself. Norm did not have diaties but one of his six childen has developed the illness.

   Norm was known to all his family as a prankster who would play tricks on his siblings and, in later years, on his children and grandchildren. He never tired of this and in many ways he remained the eternal boy. He was, to many, the life and soul of any family gathering or party. Norm was not musically inclined, like other family members, and turned his hand to inventing games for adults and children alike. The games would become the 'entertainment' at weddings and birthdays. Many family members, and outsider, has fallen victim to one or more of Norms pranks. Charity nights for local organizations could rely on Norm to raise revenue by inventing and running his games, charging a small participant fee. Claire  would often make (sew or knit) the prizes to be awarded to the winners and runners up.

Evelyn Hooper (holding the baby) with eleven of her children (Norm six from right)

    Norm and his brothers started their school days with a race. There were not enough pairs of boots for all the boys to wear. Never was the saying 'first up best dressed' more true than in the Hooper home. The first boys up got to wear the boots for the day.  The rest of the children went bare-foot. This was not an uncommon occurance in the 1930's as it was an age of bare-foot children. More often than not those with shoes did not wear them except for a special occasion preferring to be bare-foot (as can be seen the the family photograph above). There is another reason the children would want to be the first out of bed and ready for school. The first three, or even four at times depending on the ages, would be allowed to ride the horse to school. The horse was left in a paddock at the end of the long country road. At the end of the day the race would be repeated, in reverse, with the quickest out of school being able to ride the horse back home. Those who missed out had no other means of transport and had to walk to miles to and from school everyday.

   Clothes were always hand me downs. With a family of sixteen children this usually meant patched up clothes that had been past down the line from one child to the next and then the next etc. Socks were never thrown out but darned to perfection. Luckily there generally was not much time between the right sex being born for the clothes progression through the family. As was the custon, and remained so up until the late 60's, boys wore shorts until they reached the age of thirteen and braces were worn by Walter and several of his sons (braces are being worn by four of the boys in the family photograph above). Norm can be seen in the photograph wearing his braces, sixth from the left. Cardigans and jumpers were all hand knitted and dresses all homemade. Recycling was definetly practiced in Walter Hooper's house many years before the word 'recycle' ever became popular and trendy. Evelyn and Walter had to do this simply to make ends meet. With sixteen children they had no choice.

Four of Alex & Edith Winter's children: Claire, Alex (back), Roy & David (front)

     Norm meet and married Clara Evelyn Winter, known to all as Claire. She was one of five children born to Alexander Herbert Winter and Edith Evelyn Maude Yarker. Claire's mum, Edith, died at only 39 years of age. Her father, Alex, was unable to care for his young family and they were placed in the Miramar Children's Home in Wellington, New Zealand. They were then placed into foster care, or as in Claire's case, into the Ceclilia Whatman Home in Ngaumutawa Road, Masterton (as in the photograph below on the right). The older children were sent from the home to go and work on farms or into local homes, basically as servants. Claire described the work as hard but that it was a relief from the daily hell within the walls of Whatman Home. Arthur Edward Powys Whatman commissioned the building of eleven cottages to be built on his land in Upper Plain Road, to be used as accommodation for returning servicemen. On the land between his home and the cottages he later built a residential home for 65 children and their caregivers. He then presented the home to the Salvation Army. Arthur provided the Salvation Army with a substantial endowment to help with the day to day running of the home. Arthur asked that the facility be named after his sister, Cecilia Whatman, who had died in 1908. The home housed children between the ages of five and fifteen. In 2001 a class action was launched, by several people, against practices at the home that they had been subjected to as children. One woman, not taking part in the class action, described her upbringing in the home from 1928-1945 as 'brutal', She tells of being locked in a cupboard for hours, being beaten 'black and blue' and forced to stick her fingers in a light socket. Claire (my mother) told of a time when she heard her younger brother, David, was crying and went to give him a cuddle. Her punishment for doing this was that she was made to strip down and lie in a cold bath for several hours. She told of beatings with a spoon used by the cook. At times she would attempt to run away from the home and was placed in borstal for doing so on one occasion. Having been removed from a home in which she was sexually abused and placed in an institution that gained a reputation for inflicting the same treatment upon her and other inmates meant that life for Claire was pretty horrific. She would not be alone when she decribed her time in Whatman home as being miserable, inhumane, degrading and cruel. It is important to note that many children who past through the doors of Whatman Home have pleasant memories of their time in the home. The building was declared an earthquake risk and in 1985 it was demolished. Claire's life was exstinguished in 1984, a year before the end of Whatman Home, but her will to live had long since left her. Lives shaped by time spent in Whatman Home have ended as ungraciously as the home itself ... troubled and plaqued by the past ... in ruin and then gone forever.

(Left) Ngaumutawa Road House (right) Ngaumutawa Rd Cecilia Whatman Home

   Norm and Claire raised six children (the whole family can be seen in the photograph below). Each of their children's births are registered in different towns and each of the children attended a countless number of different schools. Norm was employed by the New Zealand Forestry Commission which meant he would be required to move about the country to clear blocks of forestry. The living conditions were very rough (as can be seen in a photograph below) and at times the family would find themselves living in very remote areas. An old tumble down shearing mans quarters was considered a luxury when available. But following the birth of their youngest child they did settled, for a time, in Masterton in the Wairarapa. They had a house built in Gordon Street, Masterton. Norm got into financial difficulties at this time and the home had to be sold. Norm and Claire then brought an old, one time rather grand house, in Ngaumutawa Road (as seen in the photograph on the left above), opposite Whatman Home. The yard consisted of a tennis court, vegetable gardens and an orchard. Although still living in Masterton this meant another change of school's for the children. Norm built a 'Saw Mill' at the back of the house and was joined by his brothers in operating it. Norm had a narrow escape from death whilst working in his mill. His leather apron was caught in the huge saw and his body was pulled into the running saw blade. He was rushed to the Masterton Hospital and a gapping cut from the top of his buttock to half way down his thigh was stitched. Eventually this settled period of time came to an end and once more the family was on the move north.

Hooper Family: (L-R) Lynda, Claire, Lois, Jenny, Joanne, Danny, Sue & Norm

    Claire & Norm became the cooks in the working men's quarters at the Topuni Saw Mill. The Saw Mill had single men's bach's for the workers and a house for Norm & Claire with eating facilities attached to the house. The house became something of a home away from home for many of the men, with games concocted by Norm, Table Tennis and TV that were shared by the family and working men. This lasted for a time, and after several more moves from farm to farm, a new career was decided upon by Norm and Claire. They decided to become owner-operators of a Restaurant in the New Zealand gold mining town of Thames. Both were keen 'rock hunters' and shared the enjoyment of scrambling up rivers in search of gem stones and Thames was a perfect place to pursue this hobby. The restaurant was fitted out and opened. They called it 'The Lucky Strike'. They catered for the restaurant trade and also branched out into catering for functions in the local area. This became very popular and they decided to also open a Bakery. This was called 'The Golden Nugget'. The two businesses were basically opposite one another on the main road in Thames. Some fourty years later 'The Lucky Strike' is still open in Thames (new owners) and 'The Golden Nugget' had been turned into a Craft Shop.

This photograph( above center) was taken when Norm (standing left) and his father inlaw, Alexander Winter (middle), visiting Alex's son, David Winter (right), at his bush hut. This is a classic example of the rough huts provided to shelter forestry workers. Norm was a forestry worker at this time and was no stranger to these living conditions and the other photograph's show the kind of work Norm did.

   In May 1972 Norm and Claire embarked on the biggest move of their lives. They decided to join their oldest daughter, Jenny and her husband Allan Clark, and immigrate to Sydney, Australia taking their youngest two children Joanne and Lois with them. The remaining adult children eventually found their way to Australia too, with only son Danny returning to live in New Zealand. Norms career path took a further turning as he now took up being a Security Gaurd for a developing shopping center called Warringah Mall at Brookvale, Sydney. Whe the contract finished Norm and Claire headed south to Melbourne and Norm became a maintanence man for the Glen Shopping Cetner at Glen Waverly.

  Early in her life Claire had contracted TB and this had left permanent scaring on her lungs. Her continued smoking further weakened her lungs and she died on the 17th June 1984 after a long suffering battle with Emphesemia , aged 56. Norm retired to Dereel where he and Claire had brought, along with Jenny and Allan, a bush block. Norm remarried to Margaret Kidd and became a father for the seventh time. Whilst he and Margaret lived at the bush block, his daughter Jenny's 26year marriage collapsed and she was unable to cope. She took her own life on the 18th April 1993 and just two short years later on the 17th March 1995 Norm also took his own life at the bush block. Jenny was buried at the Rokewood Cemetery, near Ballarat. Claire's ashes were buried at the Altona Cemetery, Melbourne. Norm's ashes were partly scattered on Claire's grave and daughter, Joanne, flew back to New Zealand and scattered some of his ashes in the Tararua Forest where Norm had spent many of his younger years working.


1) Jennifer Evelyn Hooper (1946-1993)
2) Susanne Mary Hooper (1948-    )
3) Danny Norman Hooper (1949-2009)
4) Lynda carol Hooper (1950-    )
Joanne Claire Hooper (1955-    )
6) Lois Beth Hooper (1957-    )


7) William Hooper (    -    )


visit ...
'ABOUT ME' their daughter Joanne's history page
visit ... 
visit ...
isit ...
visit ... our 
visit ... our